As Danny Espinosa’s present grows more encouraging, his immediate future becomes less clear. In his effort to rediscover his swing, Espinosa has been mashing the ball recently at Class AAA Syracuse. If his surge keeps up, he would be wasted in the minors. But he doesn’t have a clear spot in the majors, either. And so what becomes of Espinosa?
His agent, Scott Boras, would like to know, too. Boras said yesterday he plans to talk with General Manager Mike Rizzo after tonight’s All-Star Game regarding his plan for Espinosa.
“The Nationals sent him to the minors to get a swing plane, to get consistency with his stroke,” Boras said. “These last 10 days or so, he’s been hitting the ball very well. I actually am going to be talking to Rizz after the All-Star Game to get a little bit of a pulse on where they are with him and find out what he’s going to do.”
Over his last 10 games, Espinosa has gone 14 for his last 38 with two homers, a triple, three doubles and just seven strikeouts against four walks.
Meanwhile, though, the Nationals’ infield situation leaves little obvious room for his return. Anthony Rendon’s performance suggests he has left the minor leagues in his rearview. Without a stunner of a trade, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche at the other three spots. Espinosa would add more punch to the bench than Steve Lombardozzi, but Espinosa has never been a part-time player, and using him as a reserve may not be the best way to ensure his recent improvement sticks.
Espinosa has been playing both second base and shortstop at Syracuse. Since the Nationals officially optioned him June 19, Espinosa has lost valuable service time and healthy chunk of major league salary. Naturally, Boras views Espinosa’s recent performance as proof he belongs in the majors – whether it’s with the Nationals or with another team.
“Danny Espinosa can play major league shortstop and can play major league second base at a very, very high level,” Boras said. “Getting his swing plane refined was something Danny and the team agreed they were going to do. Certainly, I don’t think anybody’s saying is not a major league player.”
Asked if he was implying a trade would be best for Espinosa, Boras demurred. “These decisions are baseball decisions,” he said. “I’m an interested listener.”
Rizzo did not respond to email seeking comment.
The undeniable development is that Espinosa seems to have turned himself around after a difficult, injury-plagued season. The Nationals may want to see more first, but he’s at least turned a corner.
“He’s had a real small sample,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “We like where he’s headed. I haven’t looked at every picture of every film. I keep looking [at box scores]. If he doesn’t expand his zone, and when he gets a ball in his happy zone, he hits it. He doesn’t need to try to kill it.
“I had the conversation with him in Atlanta. I said, ‘You think I hate you. Look at this list. You’ve played more than anybody I got.’ I certainly like him. I was a shortstop moved to second. He just needs to get locked in and know what he’s doing, that he’s right, and not to be so changing. Once you get your right approach, it works no matter what the pitcher does.”